So-so movies often contain exceptional elements, and that is very much the case with Islands in the Stream. Overall, the film doesn't work very well. Much of the dialogue is stilted and unconvincing. Neither the screenplay nor the direction can overcome the too-episodic nature of the source material. The ending is weak and forced, and there's a general lack of cohesiveness to the endeavor. However, while director Franklin J. Schaffner may have failed to correct the flaws in the script, he's in firm control of its other aspects. George C. Scott turns in a masterful, complex, and mesmerizing performance. He uses his natural, understated strength of presence to marvelous effect and makes believable the idea that this man would engage in a conflict from which he cannot escape. Claire Bloom is sensitive and engaging as his ex-wife, and David Hemmings plays a drunk convincingly and amusingly but without falling into caricature. Schaffner and cinematographer Fred Koenekamp have also created a visually gorgeous film, one that takes full advantage of the wide Panavision screen and that pays careful attention to composition. Finally, Jerry Goldsmith's undulating score is a perfect complement to the onscreen action. These individual gems gleam in their muddled surroundings.
by Craig Butler review